As a brief recap, my running world has been great this year. I was accepted by Jenn Shelton for coaching last spring, and have thus gotten stronger and faster and more confident. After some months working together, we decided I was ready for a 50 miler. I chose Rocky. In January, I was accepted by Trail Racing Over Texas as an Ambassador. This is a group of which I am a HUGE fan. Rob & Rachel Goyen have built an empire of positivity, focused on service and growth of individuals. They are truly amazing people, and they build teams who work to serve the running community. I’ve also continued writing for Trail Sisters, and enjoyed the relationships built there. All in all, things looked perfect this year.
Then, just a few weeks before the race, I was hit with all the life. I got sick, I experienced a barrage of loss on a variety of levels, and I was hurting emotionally more than I have in years. The week of the race, I forced myself to find my fire, and I thought it had worked.
The afternoon before race day, I drove the short hour to Huntsville, got through packet pickup in plenty of time, stopped to pick up dinner, and checked into the hotel. A weekend of solitude, especially for a wife/mom/teacher, was going to be wonderful, and I planned to leave all my emotional stress on the trail.
But it wasn’t to be. In the wee hours of the night, I was shaken from my pre-race coma by my previously-consumed alfredo. At that moment, I entered into an unexpected trial of endurance on the bathroom floor of a Best Western. There was no glamour, no aid station, no one there to “cheer” me on. By the time it had finished, I was left exhausted, angry, and with no chance of making the race. It was devastating.
Everyone has been very kind and supportive. Phrases like, “there will be other races” and “this was out of your control” have been handed out with hugs of comfort, and I’m grateful to have such wonderful friends. However, it wasn’t the race I missed. I missed an opportunity to break, to shatter at the level I had been needing to shatter, in the quiet of the woods, alone with my weakness. I missed a chance to wash myself in a baptism of sweat and tears. I missed my chance to rebuild on my own two feet, and cross that finish line a better person.
But that’s okay. We don’t always get to choose how we process. We just have to process. And just like ultra-marathons are simply a series of left-right-repeat, so is life. I’ve chosen joy this week. I’ve chosen to share love and positive vibes, because that is what God made me for. I’ve mourned the things I needed to, and am rebuilding on the trail of life, instead of the trail of Rocky.
There will be another race. And I’ll be a better me when it comes.